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December 1, 2021

Police say surveillance video shows woman got into police van days before she was found dead

Investigators say video from a city surveillance camera showed a woman get into a parked police van on her own, 12 days before she was found dead inside the van in Huntsville, Alabama.

Police showed the video during a news conference Friday after showing it to the family of 29-year-old Christina Nance, al.com reported.

“We will continue to work with them through this difficult time,” Police Chief Mark McMurray said in a statement.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is representing Nance’s family as they continue to question the circumstances of her death.

“We will get to the truth of what happened to Christina Nance, the young Black woman found dead in the police van in front of the Huntsville Police Department,” Crump said in a statement Wednesday.

WHNT-TV reported that Nance’s relatives said they still had questions after watching the video. Latausha Nance said she was hoping for a clear indication of how her sister died, but the video did not provide that.

“Everything was blurry. I don’t know if that was my sister,” Latausha Nance told the station.

Authorities said an officer walking to a police car Oct. 7 found Nance’s body in an unused prisoner-transport van at the Huntsville public safety complex. Nance was not in police custody at the time of her death.

Madison County Coroner Tyler Berryhill said this week an autopsy of Nance’s body showed no signs of foul play or trauma. The cause of death will be determined after further tests, including toxicology analysis, by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. The family plans to have a private autopsy done.

McMurray said the department had been working with Nance’s family for more than a year through the Crisis Intervention Team, a program designed for first responders who handle crisis calls involving people with a mental health condition.

Deputy Chief Dewayne McCarver said during the news conference that the video came from a camera on the public safety building. The video shows a person police believe is Nance walking through the back of a parking lot used by police officers. The area has a crossbar to stop vehicles, but pedestrians can walk through.

During the video played at the news conference, timestamped for Sept. 25, a person is seen walking slowly through the parking lot. The person sits on the hood of a police car. Later, the person is seen walking among bushes. Though the video is timestamped about 12:39 a.m., the time was 12:39 p.m., police said.

The person walks behind the van. McCarver said investigators believe that’s when Nance entered the van, which had not been used since March. The doors could open from the outside but not the inside, McCarver said.

At other portions of the video, McCarver said, motion can be seen in the van, which had windows that could be popped outward instead of raised and lowered.

“We just wish she would have hollered out to someone,” he said.

Nance’s family reported her missing Oct. 2, telling police she was last seen Sept. 27. Police said the video last showed movement inside the van Sept. 28.

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